LinkedIn Status Updates That Lead To Great Job Opportunities

linkedin status updates

In a recent video – Expert Strategies for Success by LinkedIn – there are a variety of tips for writing LinkedIn status updates that attract valuable job opportunities.

To help those in need of this information, here are a few of the finer points made in the video.

  1. LinkedIn users become 10x more likely to be contacted by recruiters or employers when they share content at least once a week. Just make sure your status updates are always strong!
  2. Keep your statuses professional and relevant. LinkedIn is not a place for gossip or personal to-dos. Stay relevant to the industry you want to be employed in by sharing industry statistics and innovations that you find fit/interesting.
  3. Keep statuses positive. It is unprofessional to criticize co-workers or past employers on this social network. If you do this, you will quickly become unattractive to the potential recruiters searching out your profile.
  4. Post consistently. Whether you are posting multiple times a week or once a day, it is important that you stay to a schedule with your posts. Doing so will help you become more visible on the network, and allow potential employers and recruiters to find your profile more easily.

Now that you know how to go about writing status updates, and the benefits of doing so, it can be useful to learn about some do’s and don’ts or writing status updates on LinkedIn.

Don’ts:

  • Never ask directly for a job. It is too direct, awkward and doesn’t show the value you have to offer.

Do’s:

  • Share relevant professional activity and associated insights. Such as a convention you have recently attended.
  • Pose business related questions that can start a discussion that might gain the attention of recruiters/people.
  • Keep your feed filled with articles that make you look intelligent and refined in your area of expertise. Recruiters love when you do this.
  • Comment on others statuses. Think of this practice as a form of networking on LinkedIn. This practice will also help to keep you more visible on the social network.

Have a look at the video for more context and examples.


Using Social Media In Your Job Hunt – Expert Interview with Joshua Waldman

singapore-linkedin-social-media-job-hunt-search

From time to time, Joshua Waldman hears from clients looking for jobs that LinkedIn just doesn’t work.

“My response is simple, ‘Have you been using it actively, or just waiting for opportunities to fall into your lap?’ ”

The key to success on LinkedIn is creating a nice-looking profile (visit here to find out if yours is good enough) and then reaching out to people. Joshua recommends setting a goal of contacting at least three people every day.

He quotes Mark Zuckerberg, who said the power of Facebook is Engineered Serendipity when discussing the networking power of all social media.

“You can engineer your own serendipity simply by putting yourself out there more,” he says. “Post. Connect. The more you do, the more chance something great will come to you.”

Joshua is the founder of Career Enlightenment, which among other things, offers professional LinkedIn Profile writing services. Here, he discusses best practices for using LinkedIn and other social media when hunting for your next job. Read on:


Tell us about Career Enlightenment. What services do you offer? Who should be using them?

We offer Professional LinkedIn Profile writing services, training and certification classes. Any job seeker who knows the importance of LinkedIn for their success should be working with a professional writer.

We also work with schools and government organizations to teach them how to teach social media job search skills.


What are the smartest things everyone searching for a job right now should be doing?

Networking.

That’s where jobs come from way more than job boards.

For example, my wife just graduated from school and was looking for work. She did the job board thing. But then we had some friends over for dinner and their daughter works for a temp agency. So Lily, my wife, followed up and got in their database; and her resume was flagged as a referral.

Several months later, she got a call to see if she can start the very next day at a medical imaging center. No one else was called for this opportunity. She had no competition at all.

That’s the power of networking.


How should job seekers be using social media?

Social media is an extension of someone’s networking. That’s the whole point. Every online decision you make will either improve or break down your networking.

For example, do your profiles make it easy for other people to know what you do and how you can add value to them?

Do your posts enhance your personal brand or detract from it?

When you message someone, are you taking their point of view, or are you just asking for favors?


What shouldn’t they be doing on social media?

Beyond the obvious (not posting inappropriately), the biggest mistake I see people make is not posting frequently enough.

Believe it or not. Maybe there’s a shyness, or an apology people feel. But you have every right in the world to share your voice, and for that matter to reach out to new people and ask for the connection.

Here are my recommended daily averages for posting to the big three:

Facebook: Three to five times/day
Twitter: Five to 20 times/day
LinkedIn status updates and/or groups: One to two times per day


What are some best practices for writing your LinkedIn profile?

The big gotcha when I teach resume writers this skill is to stop copying someone’s resume and putting it online.

Your LinkedIn profile is not your online resume. It’s a platform for creating meaningful connections.

When writing a LinkedIn profile, my writers always start from scratch and they focus on storytelling in the first person.

The reason why this works so well is that the reader of your profile has a screen up in front of them – about the same distance away from where you would be if you two were having coffee. It’s a very intimate medium.

When they read your profile, they’ve already looked at your photo, so they have your voice running in their head. So you want to talk to them like you would anyone you were having coffee with.

Another biggie is the use of the professional headline. Most people just have their job title there.

Although it’s good to have your job title there, chances are it hasn’t even come close to using up all 120 characters of space in that area. This is a great opportunity to tell someone why they should click on your profile out of all the others on the search results page.


How are employers researching recruits online today?

According to Jobvite, about 94 percent of all recruiters surveyed use LinkedIn to source candidates.

That means they open up a people search, enter some keywords, specify a location, and get a list of possible matches in order of connection. First-degree connections appear first and so forth.

And they look at pictures and headlines to determine which profiles to click on.


What should job seekers do to shore up their online reputations ahead of their job search?

First, you should just Google yourself. Your future boss is doing it right now. Do you like what they’ll see?

If not, you actually need to start publishing more content. This will essentially bury the bad stuff and start to grow your SERP (search engine results page).

A great tool you can use, which is free, is the Brandyourself.com Google audit.


What’s one of your favorite stories about a job hunter leveraging social media to land a job?

I had a blog reader who wanted to work for Symantec in Ohio.

She started networking like crazy with LinkedIn. After three months or so, she saw a job open up on a job board saved search. So she applied.

But then she called her closest contact at Symantec that she cultivated over the previous months to say that she applied and would they mind letting HR know. The contact did this, her resume was flagged as a referral, and she was called the very next day.

A few weeks later she was hired.

This kind of thing happens all the time.


What other tried-and-true advice can you offer job seekers today? Something you find yourself repeating over and over?

First, know your message. Know what you’re good at and why someone would want to hire you, your value.

Second, translate that message into social media profiles. Make sure your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn Profiles all reflect that message clearly. You can also use Instagram to get more social media activity, includes even buy likes on Instagram to help you get more mediatics.

Finally, use that platform to initiate info interviews with as many people as possible. I have some templates you can use for that for free here.

Your Profile Picture Matters During Your Job Search. Learn How to Get a Perfect One

linkedin profile picture

With an extensive amount of job search activities taking place online, having a good profile picture can make you stand out from the pack of applicants.

While choosing a candidate based on looks is obviously not allowed, a profile picture does have an impact and does influence the selection process.

Since you have some control over your profile pic, you need to make sure it’s creating a positive impression on recruiters and hiring managers.

Keep reading to learn more about its importance and how to have a great profile picture.


HIRING MANAGERS WILL GOOGLE YOU. SO PUT YOUR BEST FOOT FORWARD.

When you’re applying for a position, it has become common practice for hiring managers to search for candidates online. That means they will likely find many of your social media accounts and briefly check them out.

Studies say it takes only 100 milliseconds to draw a conclusion about you from your profile picture. This first impression can be completely different depending on your expression and other aspects of your picture.

In one such study, participants were given photos of two people and asked to pick which person had higher levels of extraversion and trustworthiness.

The results were interesting. When just slight facial expressions were modified in the photos, the conclusions drawn by participants were quite different.

profile picture job search

Recent research shows that your profile picture goes a long way in affecting your friends’ reactions as well. For instance, if you ask a friend to do a favor during your job search, they’re much more likely to do it if they like your profile photo.

Since a picture is only a moment in time, it can’t possibly capture our entire personality. Therefore it is vital that you pick a photo that puts your best professional foot forward.


WHY WE OFTEN PICK THE WRONG PROFILE PHOTO

Scientists have seen in study after study that we often judge ourselves a lot less harshly than we do others. This principle is called “self-enhancement.” And we do this by believing that we’re more objective than our peers. In a sense, we believe that we think more clearly than other people.

Because we believe we’re being objective, we don’t often pick the photo that does us justice.

We judge photos of ourselves differently from how other people do. This happens because we know too much about ourselves and have insider information which others do not. We have stored up so much information about who we are and how we think we look over the years, that we have trouble being objective.

A perfect example could be those photos you took while on your hiking trip. Once you got to the top of the mountain, you were feeling proud and confident that you made it to the top. And so you might choose one of those pictures assuming others will be able to see the pride, confidence and determination, that you were feeling. Unfortunately, what we’re feeling in the moment often doesn’t translate into the photos themselves. That leaves a lot of space for others to interpret the photos as they see.

Additionally, we may have difficulty getting past our feelings about ourselves. If we have a feature we dislike, we might enhance its importance in our mind. Therefore, when looking at a photo, familiar thoughts might enter our mind and we might discard any photo that we believe highlights our flaws.

This tendency influences which photos we choose. Although a certain photo might have our best smile and a great composition, we might get rid of it because we feel like it shows our perceived flaw. And contrastingly, if we have a favorite feature, we might trash any photos that don’t highlight it even if they’re not the best photos in the bunch.


GET THE PERFECT PROFILE PICTURE

In an effort to help people get the perfect professional profile photo, PhotoFeeler conducted an 800 profile pic study and got 60,000 ratings of their perceived influence, likeability, and competence.

The photos went through an extensive process in order to control for variables like darkness and brightness in order to give the most accurate results.

So what were the study’s takeaways?

Eyes

  • Take off the sunglasses. In the study likeability dropped for profile pics with shades.
  • On the other hand, eyeglasses actually increased scores in perceived competence and likeability.
  • Eye obstruction from hair, glare, or a shadow didn’t drop a photo’s likeability. But its ratings on competence and influence did suffer.
  • Slightly squinted eyes got higher scores for competence, likeability, and influence. It’s been shown that wide open eyes denote fear while “squinched” eyes portray confidence.

Face

  • Photos that have a shadow line outlining the jaw increased scores across the board.
  • If a photo didn’t have any smile, likeability took a huge drop while perceived competence and influence also fell.
  • Smiling delivered higher scores across the board. Interestingly, a closed mouth smile boosted scores about half as much on likeability and didn’t affect competence or influence.

Body

  • Formal clothing increased ratings of competence and influence dramatically. This is an important tip for job seekers.
  • A bust (shoulders & head) or torso (head to waist) shot is preferable. Face-only close-ups dropped likeability scores and full-body shots showed a drop in competency.
  • In a surprise, PhotoFeeler’s study showed that where the photo was taken had no statistical impact on results.

Photo Editing

  • If a photo is too dark like one that mimics nighttime or a darkroom, the likeability scores dropped.
  • On the other hand if the colors are too highly saturated, likeability, competence, and influence scores all dropped.
  • Black and white photos did not produce any statistically significant results.

best profile photo for social media job search

 


As we’ve seen, your profile picture plays a huge part in your online presence.

And if you’re looking for a new job, spending some time finding the best picture is well worth the effort. As salesmen and marketers have known for a long time, image is important. So now that people are able to see what you look like online with a simple search, investing time into your profile picture is not vanity, it is pragmatism.

You can either implement the tips in this article by yourself, or hire a professional photographer to help.

And if you want insights into what your profile photo says about you, try an analysis by the PhotoFeeler tool.

10 Reasons Why You Should Never Accept a Counter Offer from Your Current Company

quit job accept counteroffer

After much internal deliberation, you’ve finally decided to hand in your letter of resignation. Maybe it was a new job offer? Maybe you’ve just don’t want to deal with the work stress anymore? The reasons could be endless.

But what if your company comes back at you with a counteroffer that includes higher pay and a promise that things will change? What should you do?

In a nutshell – Never take a counteroffer.


You’ve made the decision to move on so don’t let their counteroffer entice you do anything different. If you’re still on the fence about this, we’re going to give you 10 reasons why you should never accept a counter offer from the company you just resigned from.


You Didn’t Get a Raise Until You Quit

It’s worrisome that you were offered a raise only after you told them you’re quitting. Why weren’t you offered higher pay for your work while you were still at the company? Why weren’t you valued for your true worth? It shows a lack of values on behalf of the company and a desire to get more from the employees than they give in exchange.


Things Aren’t Really Going to Change

Yes, things might be different for a few weeks. But after everyone falls back into the same old routine, you will still be treated the same way that you were when you wanted to quit. Is a few extra dollars or a new title really worth it? You’re better off sticking to your guns and following through with your resignation. You will have the chance to take on a new job that might treat you with more respect.


The Company Isn’t Making the Offer for Your Best Interest

Hiring a new employee and finding talent to replace you takes time, effort, and money. So the company wants to make an offer that they hope will keep you around. They’ll either offer more money or a promotion and still be paying less than finding a replacement. Or they just might be buying time, to find a suitable replacement without any disruption to business.


Your Boss Will Remember

While in the beginning your boss might want you to feel welcomed back on the team, your current company will remember that you tried to leave and might look for an opportunity to force you out on their terms instead of on yours. Additionally, the hiring manager of the other company will remember that you took a counteroffer and likely hold it against you.


You’ve Already Committed

Since you’ve already accepted an offer with another company, it’s important to honor that. This new company is offering you a chance to further your career. Seize that opportunity and move forward.


Remember Why You Were Searching for a New Job

No one forced you to start your job search but there were certainly reasons that you did. Perhaps you didn’t feel appreciated, challenged, or secure in your current position. If you accept a counteroffer those factors won’t change.


You Won’t Stay Working There Long

As statistics show, people who accept counteroffers are usually out of the company pretty quickly, in as little as 6-12 months. Either the initial reasons for wanting to leave come back or the company finds a way to terminate you.


Trust is Lost

When you tell your current company that you have accepted an offer or have been looking for another job, it becomes obvious that you are unhappy with your current situation. Whether you decide to stay or not, your current company will remember that you were looking elsewhere and lose trust in you.


Accepting a Counteroffer can Damage Your Reputation

When you take a counteroffer after having already accepted another job offer, people will view you as indecisive and lose faith in you. Your colleagues and superiors will both treat you differently. Equals at work will probably start to resent you since, they’ll know that you got a special deal for threatening to leave when their work still goes unrecognized.


Think About it from the Employer Perspective

If one of your employees told you that they were leaving, would you throw more money at them in order to stay? An employer that is offering an unhappy employee more money to stay on the job is looking at the situation with a very short term lens. It would make more sense to spend time recruiting someone who wants to work there and would be eager to do the job.

If you accept an offer at a new job and put in your letter of resignation, in most cases it is better not to accept a counteroffer from your current company. It can really hurt your reputation and is truly only a temporary solution for both parties. Commit to moving forward and seize the new opportunity with both hands.

Job Search & Video Interviewing tips: Expert Discussion With Saundra Wade

saundra wade - video interviewing job search

We caught-up with Saundra Wade, APAC Marketing & Communications Director at Sonru, to get some advice for job seekers. Sonru, provides video interviewing software and is present in various parts of the world, including Singapore, UK, Europe, Australia, UAE and the US.


For people who are looking for a new job, what are some marketable qualities or abilities that will help them stand out from the other candidates, and what are some ways for job hunters to emphasize these qualities?

It really depends on the role.

In general, people want to see drive, initiative, problem-solving abilities.

Being prepared is key; make sure you’ve done your research on the company, their industry, members of the team, your potential new boss, latest news, etc. Nothing worse than a candidate who hasn’t done a simple Google search on the company, its competitors and the industry.

Just go the extra mile; it shows you really want the role.

Also personal brand is important; make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and relevant, engage in groups and discussions, post updates regularly, write your own posts on LinkedIn or maintain a blog. Also get recommendations from former colleagues, and endorsements for different skills – all that helps.


For recruiters, what are some of the most attractive qualities in a prospective employee, and what are some signs they look for in the applicants?

Again it depends on the role, but ultimately recruiters want to know if you can do the job, if you will fit in with the company culture and team.

Presentation is key, especially with video/physical interviews.

Also confidence in your abilities, and a hunger or desire as well as attitude, plus skill set that matches the job you applied for.


Obviously social media is part of our world, including the business world. For people who are job hunting, do you have any advice on ways they can use their social media channels to illustrate their abilities?

Absolutely. LinkedIn, of course, is key for demonstrating skills and experience, as well as making connections and networking, and getting recommendations.

Twitter is a great way to show knowledge and experience, interest in different subjects, as well as engagement with others and how you communicate.

Creating video content and posting to YouTube and Vimeo works well; you can embed this on your LinkedIn profile as well as Slideshare for presentations.

Reputation is important, so what you don’t post on social channels is as important as what you do.

Also, on the other side of that coin, social media is a great way to learn more about a company, their culture and their latest news.


Can you give us a couple of quick video interviewing tips for job hunters?

For a video interview, the key part is to treat it no differently than a face-to-face interview.

Make sure you’re dressed to impress, just like you would be if you were going in to meet someone face to face.

Avoid distractions, and make sure you won’t be interrupted by anything while you’re recording your interview. Body language is important, so sit up straight and be confident. And don’t forget to smile 🙂

How to Utilize LinkedIn So Recruiters Call You

linkedin job search singapore

With more than 330 million people registered with LinkedIn, the opportunities for finding jobs, and being found by hiring managers/recruiters is great. But many people haven’t adapted their profiles to facilitate being found and to encourage recruiters to call.

Keep reading to learn how you can get recruiters to call you, by using your LinkedIn profile.

Connect with as Many Recruiters as Possible on LinkedIn

Adding many connections on LinkedIn including recruiters in your industry, has many benefits. Because 93% of recruiters on LinkedIn use it to search for candidates, you’re opening up your potential job search/career network.

Also when recruiters search for candidates on LinkedIn, the results are organized by the degree of connection (1st, 2nd, Group, etc). While the LinkedIn search algorithm is a mystery, keyword density/placement, number of recommendations, degree of connection, and having a picture all play a role in getting to the top of the list.

The more recruiters you have in your network, the greater the chances of you showing up on their search list. By connecting with recruiters, you’re also making their job easier since they now have another qualified candidate to add to their database.

How to Find Recruiters in Your Industry/Function

In order to get recruiters to call you, you need to find them and get connected on LinkedIn. Find the recruiters in your industry in just 5 simple steps.

  1. Open up the advanced search feature.
  2. Filter by the location you want to work in.
  3. Then filter by the industry or current company.
  4. Then try keywords such as “recruiter.”
  5. You can also search by specific roles like ‘Marketing’ to get more specific results.

As you start to search for recruiters to connect with, start with as many specific filters as you can and then gradually take some off in order to grow the size of the list.

Now Connect to Recruiters

Using the list you created from the previous step, send the recruiters an invitation to connect.

For many second degree connections, you’ll be able to simply click the “Connect” button to the right of their name and an invitation will be sent.

If that doesn’t work, try clicking on their name to open up their profile, then click Connect from inside their profile.

If that doesn’t work either, and also for third degree connections, you will see the following options:

 

recruiters linkedin jobs singapore

 

You’re in luck if you have some overlap in your work/education background. If not, then go to the recruiter’s profile and scroll to the bottom to see which LinkedIn Groups they are a part of. You can try joining one of those Groups and then often you’ll see another option for Groups, on the ‘How do you know XYZ’ screen. Select that and send your invitation.

Where possible, customize your invitation message to tell them that you noticed they were a recruiter, you’re open to opportunities and why you are a good/relevant candidate.

Now that you know how to use your LinkedIn profile to get recruiters to call you, start getting connected!

Sources and references: Joshua Waldman, who is a job search expert and author of the book Job Searching with Social Media For Dummies.

4 Tips to Get Your Resume Past The Gatekeeper (i.e. Applicant Tracking Systems)

optimise writing resume ats singapore

Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are used by recruiters/companies, to help collect, organize and search through the tremendous amount of resumes that they get on a regular basis.

According to CIO Magazine, 75 percent of job hunters get their career aspirations knocked off-track because of the way that ATS software handles resumes.

But there are ways that you can develop a resume that gets past an ATS and winds up in the hands of a recruiter/hiring manager.


Customize Your Resume

Customizing your resume for every potential employer is something that many experts recommend, but the University of Illinois at Chicago says that customizing resumes is essential for getting past an ATS. Utilize keywords and phrases and information that speak directly to a potential employer and your resume stands a much better chance of getting past that employer’s ATS.


Utilize Keyword Optimization Tools

Since an ATS is a software program designed to analyze resumes based on content matching, you can fight fire with fire by employing keyword optimization tools to make sure that you are using the proper keywords to get your resume noticed.

There are many resume keyword optimization programs that will compare the keywords you are using to the type of job you are applying for and help you to use the proper concentration and type of words to get better results. While these programs are not ATS-based, they will give good insight into what types of keywords you should be using to get past an ATS program.

Two tools you can use for this are Jobscan and Wordle.


Never Use A PDF File Format

Using PDF resumes to make job applications is something many job hunters do, but it could also be damaging your chances at getting past an ATS. According to CIO Magazine, sending your resume in PDF format only help to confuse an ATS, as most ATS software is not designed to be able to precisely read content from a PDF. A better way to get your resume read is to use some form of a Microsoft Word file format when sending over a resume.


Lay Off The Images

Professionals, especially those looking for work in creative fields such as web design and graphic arts like to develop resumes that show off their talents. This can be an extremely effective method if a human being is screening the resumes, but it is might not work if your resume goes through an ATS. According to HCareers.com, most ATS software only read text. That means that utilizing too many images and graphics could cause problems for your resume.


We can help you develop a resume that will get through an ATS and get in front of a recruiter/hiring manager. Have a look here for more information.

The Power of Putting Your Voice Behind Your Resume

voice behind resume job search

For job seekers looking for their next opportunity or recent college graduates entering the work force, using your network and making a personal connection can be the leverage you need to get your next role.

Researchers are discovering that putting your human voice in the mix might be just as important.

Nick Epley and Juliana Schroeder, behavioral scientists at the University of Chicago are saying that voice can convey how a person thinks, including their ability to reason. When your voice changes in pitch or cadence, other people take these as cues indicating your intelligence and the level of activity in your mind.

Now that psychologists have uncovered this, could what job seekers say be more important than what they write? Curious about this question Epley and Schroeder designed a series of tests designed to simulate the “elevator pitch” in real life.

  • In one of the studies, MBA students had a 2-minute pitch videotaped for a company they wished to work for.
  • Next volunteers posed as a group of “employers” who needed to judge the pitches and see if they should hire the candidates.
  • The volunteers either read the transcript of the spoken pitch, viewed the video, or listened to the audio alone.
  • While doing this, they needed to consider such questions as: How intelligent was the candidate? How much do you like them? Would you hire this person?

The results were convincing. Speaking greatly helped candidates/job seekers.

  • Volunteers who listened to the pitch rated the candidate much more favorably than those that just read the transcript. And most importantly, they were more likely to hire that person.
  • Even more interestingly, the volunteers who watched the video did not rate the candidates any higher than those who just listened to the pitch. The visual information/cues did not change their judgement about the candidates intelligence or hirability.

So words of wisdom for job seekers?

  • Always do whatever you can to get some voice/face time.
  • Try to setup phone calls and meetings with people in your target companies.
  • After making a job application, think about what you can do to get the recruiter or hiring manager on the phone.
  • For tips on how to do these things (and more), have a look at our complimentary EPIC Job Search Guide.

Find a Rewarding Career After a Long Hiatus From the Workforce

back to work after long break

So you had a great career 10 years ago. You were knowledgeable, dependable, and most of all you loved your job. But life happened–you had kids, you had to take care of your aging family, you had a major illness, or you just needed to take a break. Now you’re ready to get back into the workforce and want a career, not just a job. Where should you start? Here are some tips to get you started with planning and preparation for this next stage of your life:

  • Do some research: The job you had 10 years ago probably doesn’t exist anymore, at least not in the same way you remember it. Technological advances combined with changes in business practices means that you will probably need to do some work to catch up to your field. Do enough research to get a good sense of what is available in your field/industry, to determine what skills you already have and what skills you need to either brush up on, or invest some time into.
  • Go back to school: If your field demands education and training in X. and you have Y, you aren’t likely to be hired anytime soon. Go ahead and invest your time and money into additional training, education, or certification now so that you can have a longer/fulfilling career later.
  • Strategically Volunteer: Volunteering for a non-profit in a general role, or one that is related to your industry/function,  is a great way to gain some experience, especially when you’ve been out of the workforce for an extended period of time. It’s also an easy way to network with industry professionals and make contacts that can lead to a career. Websites like – sgcares, MINDS, Make a Wish Foundation, AWARE and ACRES – get you started by matching your interest with volunteer opportunities.
  • Stay active and in-touch with your function/industry: Join relevant associations, take part in networking events, attend seminars/conferences and keep reading.
  • Use small companies to work flexibly: You might not have the time for a full-time job. However, maybe you can spend a few hours a week working. If that’s the case, then keep a lookout for small companies who can use your skills. They can often use an extra hand and are usually more flexible with different types of work arrnagements.
  • Optimize job search componentsBrush-up on the latest and best job search techniques, including resume/cover letter/LinkedIn profile writing, interview preparation and methods to generate leads and opportunities
  • Downplay your time-off: When you’re talking to professionals in your industry, and especially during an interview, don’t focus on the fact that you’ve been out of the workforce for years. Instead, talk about what you did while you weren’t working. Make a list for yourself ahead of time of everything you did, focusing on what skills you gained. Did parenthood help you figure out better strategies for time management and multi-tasking? Maybe caring for an aging relative forced you to learn a lot about the healthcare industry. Also highlight how you stayed in touch with your function/industry. You know you weren’t just sitting at home doing nothing all day, so make sure everyone connected to your career opportunities knows that too.

Taking time off from the workforce doesn’t mean you can’t still have a rewarding career. Yes, the job search will be relatively harder but hopefully these tips will make the process easier.

Writing your Unique Selling Proposition – Uncovering Your Achievements, Skills & Strengths

unique selling proposition

We all have something unique about us. Knowing exactly what your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is and being able to communicate this effectively can be very useful, in several career/work situations.

The following 4 exercises will help you uncover your skill-set or competency package, identify your strengths, and write a Strengths Profile & USP.

You can write down the exercises in your own format, or use this workbook, depending on your preference.


1(a). Achievements

The word ‘achievements’ can make some people uneasy because it has connotations with things like coming first in a competition, winning a gold medal or climbing the world’s highest mountain ! However, an achievement is simply an action you have taken with a successful ending.

Looking back over your life, note the achievements you’re most proud of – in any area of your life. Write these down. Your achievements could be work-related, or to do with what you do in your spare time – your leisure activities. They could be academic or school or college related activities. Write down what you are most proud of in your life.

1(b). Skills used in Achievements

For the achievements you have written about, list the knowledge and skills you used in achieving that result.


2(a). List Your Work Skills

Write a list of the skills you used in your work. As well as the skills you used in your most recent job, list those from previous jobs as well.

2(b). Other Specialist or Technical Skills

If you attended any specialist or technical training or educational courses, you may have developed certain specialist or technical skills associated with this course. List any specialist or technical skills you have gained.


3. Strengths

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What am I really good at?
  • What skills do other people compliment me on or associate me with?
  • What do I do that is unique and that sets me apart from my peers? Or what skill(s) do I have that is unique and sets me apart from others?

4. Survey others about your strengths

Identify up to ten individuals who can give you accurate feedback about your strengths.

This group should include current colleagues, but also, ideally, former colleagues, friends and family members. Tell them it’s an exercise related to your professional development and that you’re not just fishing for compliments (which would be embarrassing for all concerned)!

Ask them to think about what your strengths are, and to give an example to back up every strength they identify. The strengths don’t need to be specifically work-related. In fact, if you’re unhappy in your current job, it’s particularly important that you get feedback from people who know you from outside a work context, as they may identify real strengths that you have which you’re unable to display at work.

[If you wish, you could also ask them what they see as your weaknesses – and again, ask them for specific examples.]

If you are too shy or embarrassed to ask people to tell you about your strengths, you can write what you imagine these people might say about you. The result will still be useful, though not as useful as the actual feedback from these people.

Identify themes in the responses: Once you have all of the responses in from your survey group, start to group the responses together into themes. Some of the themes may reflect strengths you were aware of, but they may also identify things that you hadn’t realised were strengths because they come so naturally to you.


5. Pulling it all together – writing your strengths profile

Draw together the key strengths that have emerged from your analysis, and tie them together in a few paragraphs that summarise what you’re really good at.

This ‘strengths profile’ is useful to revisit anytime you are feeling low or when you find the going tough – it’s a great confidence booster!

However, its purpose here is to help you write your USP – your Unique Selling Proposition.


6. Your USP – Unique Selling Proposition

In business, it’s much easier to make a profit by offering a higher-priced product that uniquely meets someone’s needs. This is why uniqueness is such a highly valued attribute.

Similarly, the person who most uniquely suits the role gets the job. And the person who’s unique and irreplaceable skills help an organisation the most, gets the highest rewards in terms of pay and benefits. Indeed, some top salesmen frequently earn more the CEO!

Your Strengths Profile is only a starting point in defining your USP or Unique Selling Proposition. This collection or package of strengths – your skills and knowledge, are a stand-alone statement of your competencies. However, a USP is more than this. It is a statement of your unique collection of competencies related to a specific purpose – and in relation to résumé crafting or any other aspect of a job search, this means a specific job and employer.

Your USP needs to be targeted

So in defining your USP, you need to know what competencies are needed for a particular purpose.

Let’s use the example of a situation where you are looking for a job, or writing a resume. In this case, you should know what strengths are valued by the specific employer for that specific job. Your personal USP will be the package of competencies that you can offer. But you won’t know what sort of customised package to offer, or develop, unless you analyse what is it that makes people successful in the role(s) you desire, and unless you know what competencies are most highly sought by the employer for that specific role. You can deepen your knowledge of this ideal package by researching the people who are successfully currently work in that role or job type.

  • What skills and personal qualities do they possess?
  • What skills-set do the people who excel in this field have?
  • What skill set does the organisation they work for value?

It is critical that you identify the most valuable characteristics, so spend a sufficient amount of time on this stage. If you are analysing yourself based on factors that the employer, or industry doesn’t value, then you are wasting your time – if no one cares that you can write well, then don’t include it as a valuable characteristic.

6(a). Rank Yourself Against Others

Now that you know what characteristics and competencies are valued for your purpose, you need to know how your own skill-set or package of competencies measure up. Remember, this exercise is designed to figure out how you can best market yourself using a combination of skills.

This doesn’t mean you have to be the best at any individual thing. What it means is that you need to understand and develop what you’re good at, so that you can firstly pick the opportunities most likely to suit you, and secondly concentrate on building your skills to give you that unique edge.

As you go through this exercise, it’s really important that you remain objective and simply concentrate on evaluating yourself and others against the actual skill or competency being analysed. You don’t want to get personal. This isn’t about being better than anyone else – it’s about marketing yourself in the most effective way and working to add extra “product features” to make your USP truly unique.

It’s also important to remember that when you encounter a skill where you are not ranked highly, this does not mean you can’t be successful at the job, and nor does it mean you can’t pursue the opportunity. What it indicates is that you need to have a well-thought-through strategy for dealing with this. Perhaps you should emphasise the combination of skills you have and other areas where you excel, while also setting a goal to develop further skill in your weaker area.

Action:

Determine the top five to eight valuable competencies for the job you are interested in. Make sure that you include technical skills as well as soft skills and attitudes. Then give scores out of ten (where 1 is poor and 10 is excellent) for these top characteristics or competencies for yourself, for “average people” in the field, and for two identified high performers at the job.

6(b). Develop your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) Statement

You are now in a position to start writing your USP statement.

Action:

Start with the list of competencies where you’re top ranked. These are the obvious competencies you should stress in your USP. You can then move to the other characteristics you ranked highly in and ask yourself:

  • Which of these reinforce areas where I’m top ranked?
  • Do any of my strengths counteract my areas of weakness?

Next, look at your areas of weakness. Being realistic, will they severely impact you or are there things you can do to neutralise them?

Beyond that you need to look closely at the highly ranked competencies of your benchmarks and identify those areas where you can further develop your skills.

6.(c) Action:

Spend a few minutes pulling these points together into a clear and simple USP statement for this opportunity and record it below. Then look at the USP, and think about what sort of organisation would be looking for someone with that USP.

Here is an example:

I am an effective communicator who excels in understanding the needs of customers in the ABC industry, communicating those needs clearly and accurately, and guiding the development of effective solutions to those needs.

Before you finalise your USP, make sure that it is realistic. Put yourself in the minds of the people who are the “gatekeepers” of the opportunity, and ask whether it stacks up as something that will matter decisively to them. Secondly, make sure that the USP genuinely suits you, and captures the essence of who you are. People will quickly see through you if you’re a fake.

Making the Transition from Freelance to Full-Time Work

freelance back to corporate world

Wondering why people would want to transition from freelance to a full-time job?

Working as an independent professional is a dream come true for most people. Who wouldn’t want control of your own time, freedom to decline projects that don’t seem interesting, and the opportunity to make a name for yourself? Yup, it’s easy to understand why those “tied” to corporate life look with envy at those who do freelance work.

But believe it or not, independence has its share of disadvantages. Working alone can be, well, lonely, and there’s nothing like the company of faces you get to see every day.  Having marketing rest solely on your shoulders is a lot of pressure; going freelance means if you don’t close a deal, you don’t get to earn. You’d also have to forgo benefits like medical plus dental, 13th and 14th month salaries, and paid vacation leaves.

So if you’re considering a transition from freelance to go back to a regular 9-to-5, don’t worry: there’s nothing wrong with you. But you have to remember, such a career change requires big adjustment. Working for a company versus being self-employed are two drastically dissimilar things.

Below are some of the things you have to work on when making the transition from freelance to 9 to 5.


Don’t view (and therefore present) your self-employment as weakness.


Getting full time work when you’ve been freelancing for so long can be difficult. Job recruiters will often take one look at your resume and assume you can’t possibly thrive in an atmosphere of corporate pressure. And yes, this may be true. But this doesn’t mean you’re completely unqualified or you can’t bring something extra to the company.

Think of transferable skills associated with self-employment. Initiative, confidence, self-presentation, decisiveness, and effective project management are just a few. And being in charge of your own business means you’re well-rounded — you’re marketer, worker, customer service, and personnel manager all in one.  Emphasize these skills in your resume and in the job interview.

And if HR wants to talk about how hard you’ll find life in a dynamic company, share how self-employment isn’t exactly a walk in the park. For instance, when they challenge your ability to work with a boss, tell them that freelancing means working for several bosses all at once! Yup, you’re way ahead of everyone else when it comes to managing up.


Anticipate the question: why the change?


As mentioned earlier, many people look with envy at the self-employed, so transitioning from freelancer to employee means HR will have to do some mental gymnastics. You have to be prepared to give an answer that wouldn’t make you appear as if you’re escaping a sinking business (which doesn’t reflect well on you) or you’ve exhausted your energy and creativity as a service-provider. Instead, illustrate how the career change is actually going up the career ladder. You can share, for example, how serving a larger company will give you the opportunity to apply your best practices to a larger market.


Brace yourself: Actually doing a project is demanding work.


If you’re a freelance consultant, you’re probably used to visiting clients only when requested. Being an outsider and an expert, you’re in a position to assess what’s going on in a company and provide qualified advice. The thing is: the perspective from the outside is radically different from the inside. Many consultants, especially those who have not worked from end to end of projects in a good while, do get culture shock when reminded how toxic the ‘real’ world can be.

So start your 9 to 5 with a reality check — and a large serving of humble pie. Your industry may have changed significantly since you went independent; it’s best to start with a blank slate. Some of your work-related muscles may have atrophied from underuse, so take the time to re-learn old skills.  View it as an adventure, like visiting a well-loved place you haven’t seen in a long while.


Get comfortable working with structure.


Going back to a full time job means you have to surrender a lot of control over how you do things. Unless your company offers flexi-time, you’d have to clock in at regular hours. You’d have several heads to consult before you can run with your ideas. There’ll be protocols left and right. You may even have to do more paper pushing than you’re used to.

The best way to go about adjusting into new habits is to just jump into it. Most psychologists say it takes 7 weeks to learn a new habit and about 3 months to settle into it. In the meantime, remind yourself why you decided to make the change in the first place. Structure can be stifling but it can also be comforting — it’s a source of stability. The structure, for instance, means that you would know beforehand how much work you have to do and when you can take your rest. This is as opposed to freelancing where you just don’t know if you’ll have income or you’ll have to work through the weekend.


And lastly, review your social skills.


Not all self-employed individuals have rusty social skills. But those that do (e.g. writers who work at home for online companies) may need to re-learn how to interact again with humanity!

You may have forgotten how to survive little irritants that come with personality quirks, or manage the stress of a diverse team. You may need to resolve conflicts face-to-face instead of email. Breathe deep and remember you’re no longer working alone. There are perks to anticipate anyway such as increased social support and better self-regulation.

With these tips in mind, you should see a smoother transition from freelance to full time work.